All the possibilities of your human destiny are asleep in your soul. You are here to realize and honor these possibilities. When love comes in to your life, unrecognized dimensions of your destiny awaken and blossom and grow. Possibility is the secret heart of time.”― John O’Donohue, Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom
In a recent class with my wonderfully curious and hilarious group of adolescents, we began our unit on “Life” with the question:
“What is life?”
What defines living things as opposed to non-living things? We were going to dive deeper into the origins of life on earth and introduce microbiology. But every class, we always start with a question.
The kids talked about birth and death, reproduction, and respiration and other physical functions of the body.
A guest appeared at the door and joined the conversation. Christiano Can, hip hop artist/musician/poet/philosopher, threw in some other questions that had all of us going down the rabbit hole of more questions.
One question that had us all spiralling in and out:
“Is a seed alive?”
A seed holds all the potential but without an environment to nourish its growth, even if the environment is harsh because a fundamental trait of every living organism is also its ability to adapt, it stays as potential without expression.
If we are just going to consider the biological characteristics and functions, then a seed is not alive in and of itself but sometimes we need to expand and even challenge definitions that satisfy our physical senses.
In our discussion, someone said that the seed IS alive but sleeping. Dormant.
Potential energy existing within.
The definition of potential energy in relation to physics is stored energy of an object in relation to its position, the stresses within itself, electric charge, and other factors.
The word “potential” has origins in these words:
Powerful, able, capable, and possible.
So what if all the “possibilities of human destiny are asleep in your soul”? And if soul, isn’t the right word for you, what if they are asleep in you, your very consciousness?
What seeds are waiting to be planted and cultivated and given the right conditions to awaken? Could you even imagine a garden full of endless possibilities?
Take 15 minutes and choose one activity to do right now:
- Draw a seed of potential and imagine the conditions it needs to grow
- Write down all the possibilities that this seed holds. Write down what it means to be a sleeping seed? What conditions do you need to grow? What potential energy is within you? Imagine BIG. Like an oak tree or a ceiba.
- Draw/paint a beautiful garden abundant with growth.
- Plant some seeds.
- Copy the poem below by David Whyte or the quote above by John O’Donohue or find one that suits you on seeds.
- Or do anything that inspires you to reflect on your own potential.
What to Remember when Waking
In that first hardly noticed moment in which you wake,
coming back to this life from the other
more secret, moveable and frighteningly honest world
where everything began,
there is a small opening into the new day
which closes the moment you begin your plans.
What you can plan is too small for you to live.
What you can live wholeheartedly will make plans enough
for the vitality hidden in your sleep.
To be human is to become visible
while carrying what is hidden as a gift to others.
To remember the other world in this world
is to live in your true inheritance.
You are not a troubled guest on this earth,
you are not an accident amidst other accidents
you were invited from another and greater night
than the one from which you have just emerged.
Now, looking through the slanting light of the morning window
toward the mountain presence of everything that can be
what urgency calls you to your one love?
What shape waits in the seed of you
to grow and spread its branches
against a future sky?
Is it waiting in the fertile sea?
In the trees beyond the house?
In the life you can imagine for yourself?
In the open and lovely white page on the writing desk?
— David Whyte
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